FM – Thirteen

FM’s Thirteenth album doesn’t mean its unlucky. In fact its the finest of this version of FM

Said in my best Smashy and Nicey voice “FM are probably one of my favourite bands of all time, probably of all time mate!” Just like Mervs missus’s band, FM never let me down, especially live. OK I have selective memory with Dead Mans Shoes, but there are still a couple of belters on that album (Sister and Tattoo Needle). So, this thirteenth studio album from FM is aptly called, well, er…..’Thirteen’. I’d like to have been there for that meeting.

This current version of FM is the most stable in the bands illustrious history. The vastly underrated rhythm section of Jupp/Goldsworthy are firmly behind the wheel and Steve ‘The Voice’ Overland is still here, sounding as good as ever. He sits comfortably alongside Gramm, Perry, Hughes, Dio and Coverdale, and that is how high a regard I hold him in. Drop in Jem Davis adding sumptuous layers and Jim Kirkpatrick (still the new bloke) who has turned up yet again with a suitcase full of riffs and melody, and this magic recipe has delivered the best FM album since Metropolis, possibly after Tough It Out (and this assessment is just after a single listen) and instantly gets into my top 4 FM albums of all time, and could go higher after repeated listens.

Opening track ‘Shaking The Tree’ shows that FM have lost nothing of their vim and vigor. Its fair to say this is one of the finest openings since ‘Tough It Out’. Jem Davis add some nice keyboards to this song and he threads through the whole album like a champion sewing bee. Proving that its not just the one song being great, ‘Waiting On Love’ shows why they still are one of the finest bands to come out of Blighty. Mr Overland sounds at his absolute best and the fab 5 harmonies wash over me like a coveted security blanket. I don’t think there is a chink in his armour. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ has a tougher edge to it and ‘Turn This car Around’ is something that Don Henley would have killed his granny for in 1986. ‘Love and War’ takes me back to the very underrated ‘Run No More’ from ‘Aphrodisiac’. ‘Every Man Needs A Woman’ is a barnstorming track, and is Jim Kirkpatricks tribute to EVH. And nails it. I’ve never quite understood the phrase ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ because surely you just get more fire! Its the kind of song that would have adorned an 80s B movie. That is no insult when you listen to soundtracks like ‘The Wraith’. The final track ‘Be True To Yourself’ has a bit of a proggy undertone to it, only with harmonies a plenty and rounds off a cracking album.

To summarise, Overland is still one of the best vocalists of all time, the harmonies are to die for, Kirkpatrick’s playing gets better with each album, (not that he was shite before!) and the understated rhythm section of Jupp and Goldsworthy are the meat and bones of FM.

FM have brought their ‘A game’ for ‘Thirteen’ as the quality of songs are probably the best that this version of FM have put together. I have waxed lyrical about some of the previous FM albums, but this one is the absolute bollocks!

Tracklisting –
Shaking The Tree
Waiting On Love
Talk Is Cheap
Turn This Car Around
Love And War
Long Road Home
Be Lucky
Every Man Needs A Woman
Just Got Started
Fight Fire With Fire
Be True To Yourself

Groundbreaker – ‘Soul To Soul’ Album review

If you liked the debut, you’ll absolutely love ‘Soul To Soul’. Quality AOR from Groundbreaker and Overland

Buy here – https://www.frontiers.shop/search?sSearch=groundbreaker

By Paul Chesworth

Unless you’re a fan of melodic rock/AOR, then you won’t be aware of one of the hardest working men in British rock music, one Steve Overland. Outside of FM, he has a CV that few can muster – The Ladder, Shadowman, Ozone, Lonerider, and his own project, simply called Overland. Not including all the albums he has guest appeared on, sings with The Staz Band, and has done shed loads of tribute songs, AND sang the theme to Galaxy Rangers! Phew. Known to his bandmates and supporters of FM as ‘the voice’ its a title that is very aptly bestowed, given we are in a world where platitudes are handed out like sweets.

‘Soul To Soul’ is a grand title for Overlands blues/soul vocal stylings. The debut included Robert Sall (Work Of Art) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (production). Sall has gone, joining this time on the songwriting side and is Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Pete Alpenborg (Arctic Rain), Jan Akesson (Infinite & Devine), and Kristian Fyhr (Seventh Crystal). The line up includes Sven Larsson (ex-Street Talk) on guitars, Nalley Pahlsson (Therion) on bass, Herman Furin (Work Of Art) on drums, and Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards.

On to the stuff that matters. The music. The appetite was well and truly whetted back in August when the video for ‘Standing On The Edge Of A Broken Dream’ dropped. Its massive slice of pure and polished AOR. Its somewhat akin to FMs debut and the more recent efforts by bands like W.E.T, WOA, and Perfect Plan. An opener wouldn’t be an Overland special without the obligatory ‘whoa-ohs’™️. ‘Soul To Soul’ opens with a lovely parpy keyboard, and sees Overland hitting notes that I didn’t think possible from him. Its also worth mentioning Sven Larsson’s sterling guitar work. There’s a couple of obligatory ballads in ‘Captain Of Our Love’ and ‘Fighting For Our Love’ and because of Overland they are elevated and could appear corny had anyone else tackled them, such is the gravitas he brings to the table.

It’s on the polished, and punchy numbers that Groundbreaker truly shine. ‘Evermore’ picks up the tempo and has a good chorus. Its as close to FM as Groundbreaker gets. Overland himself gets to shine by playing lead guitar on Wild World. It borders into fm-radio territory and that’s not a bad thing to say by any means. ‘Carrie’ (not that one, or the other one) ups the ante, and Larsson wrings the neck off of his guitar. It’s a cracking little song. ‘It Don’t Get Better Than This’ has great harmonies and reminds me of The Storm. ‘Theres No Tomorrow’ keyboard sound is straight out of the iSPY book of Michael Bolton songs (that’s a reference few will get unless you’re over 50!). It’s a great song and my fave of the bunch. ‘When Lightning Strikes’ has a great melody and nice layered harmonies with now obligatory searing Larsson guitar solo. Its formulaic, but it’s one hell of a formula. ‘’Til The End Of Time’ is solid enough, but it’s on the final song ‘Leap Of Faith’ where it is a prime example of Overlands ‘cream on top of the milk’ analogy. It’s a fine song to end a mighty fine album.

If you love your pure AOR in bands like Signal, Bad English, Alias, LeRoux and Unruly Child, then look no further than ‘Soul To Soul’ It may not break into many peoples top 10s but it certainly will do on mine come December

Anything Michael Bolton can do, so can Overland, only sometimes a lot better but without Bolton’s bank balance. The man should be a household name. Well you are in our house son.

I liked the debut, but this one comes with knobs on!

9/10

Tracklisting –
Standing On The Edge Of A Broken Dream
Soul To Soul
Captain Of Our Love
Evermore
Wild World
Carrie
Fighting For Love
It Don’t Get Better Than This
There’s No Tomorrow
When Lightning Strikes
Til The End Of Time
Leap Of Faith

FM – Tough It Out…Live

‘Tough It Out’ in its entirety has been a long time coming but worth its weight in gold.

FM – Tough It Out Live

It just so happens that my very first FM gig was on the ‘Tough It Out Tour’. October 26th 1989 to be precise. We broke down on the way there, but was determined to see them for the first time. Since then Ive probably seen them live at least 40 times, I should have kept count! Getting old is a bastard.

Dec 20th 2019 was the date we want to see them on the 30th anniversary tour at the Manchester Academy 2. It turns out to be one of the last gigs I saw because of the Covid situation. Strange times indeed.

Live albums are a bit hit and miss, none can recreate the feeling of being at the gig, but ask any rock fan 45 and over and probably only about 6 or 7 spring to mind – Kiss, UFO, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, Rush, and Deep Purple. Its a tough membership club that few get admitted to

Anywho, like the ‘Indiscreet’ tour, I was also hotly anticipating the ‘TIO’ tour. ‘Tough It Out’ is a vastly underrated album. It was the album that was supposed to break FM into megastars. The label brought in the golden pens of Desmond Child, (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith), Jesse Harms, and Robin and Judith Randall. The album contained some absolute gems – ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Someday’, ‘The Dream That Died’, ‘Burning My Heart Down’, and my all time favourite FM power ballad ‘Everytime I Think Of You’. For some strange reason, it just didn’t happen. So it was a chance again to hear most of these songs probably for the last time as they vanished from setlist obscurity, for as long as I can remember. Hardly a song from ‘TIO’ makes it into the FM set these days, and I always wanted a FM live album from that era. I had to make do with a bootleg cassette bought at a record fair some 31 years ago. Blimey.

To be honest, the album sounds fab. Production is nicely balanced between band and audience, and the mix is solid, hearing all instruments and vocals from band and audience. ‘Tough It Out’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ reaffirms my belief in these songs, Overlands vocals are excellent (when aren’t they – well on that bootleg cassette for starters). The bloke has never, ever let me down. Kirkpatrick’s and Overland’s guitar parts match the originals, and the harmonies are a melodic rock fans crusty sock dream. ‘Bad Luck’ one of the few that still makes the current day set is the big song that delivers in spades. ‘Someday’ is a melodic rock classic that deserves its place in FMs set list. ‘Everytime I Think Of You’ was classed as FM’s new ‘Frozen Heart’ back in the day, and was soon dropped. Its a killer ballad and one of the few I can still listen to. All the songs up to ‘The Dream That Died’ is a reminder of just how good ‘TIO’ was, and still is. The latter half of the album are a welcome addition to me, and I loved hearing them being given a proper dust off and airing, even if they never make the light of day again. The gig should have been sponsored by ‘Pledge’, and ‘Brasso’. They missed a trick.

The second CD is a deep dive into a clutch of songs that like ‘TIO’, hardly get a sniff of being played live. Which is a shame, nay its criminal, because there are some bloody fantastic beauties on this disc. How ‘Dangerous’ never made it onto ‘Indiscreet’ or ‘TIO’ is a mystery to me, and is the best of all their B sides. ‘Diggin Up The Dirt’ is one of the best songs to come out of FM since they reformed with Metropolis, and shows how good the current FM are. Had ‘Only The Strong Survive’ been picked up by a 90s boy band, it would have been a massive hit. Its the addition of three songs from ‘Aphrodisiac’ that whet my appetite – ‘Hard Day In Hell’, with sublime vocals from Overland; ‘Breathe Fire’, and the excellent ‘Blood And Gasoline’ wehre only someone like Overland can get away with a line ‘When I hold you in my arms, my blood feels like gasoline’. ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ closes out the album, its the song that nearly got them the exposure they deserve. Overland is on fire, and even a heckle can’t shake him off his stride. 

‘Tough It Out Live’ is a mighty fine live album. Having waited 32 years for it, it lives up to my expectations. Are we likely to see the same of Aphrodisiac? I would like to think so. But having seen both ‘Indiscreet’ and ‘Tough It Out’ played in their entirety, I am content in having seen their two best pieces of work. 

FM were and still are one of finest rock bands Blighty has produced. How they never became big (massive) is a puzzle to me and probably all FM fans. In another parallel universe, the likes of Bon Jovi and Foreigner are opening for FM. I’m hoping one day there’s an Overland biography that will fill in all the blanks, or more succinctly….’Diggin Up The Dirt’. In the meantime, enjoy FM at their finest.

8/10

Track list – 

Intro

Tough It Out

Don’t Stop 

Bad Luck

Someday (You’ll Come Running)

Everytime I think Of You

Burning My Heart Down

The Dream That Died

Obsession

Can You Hear Me Calling?

Does It Feel Like Love

Feels So Good

Digging Up The Dirt

Tough Love

Hollow

Dangerous

Hard Day In Hell

Wildside

Breathe Fire

Only The Strong Survive

Blood And Gasoline

I Ain’t The One

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

FM

Steve Overland – Lead vocals, guitar

Pete Jupp – Drums

Merv Goldsworthy – Bass guitar, backing vocals

Jim Kirkpatrick – Lead guitar, backing vocals

Jem Davis – Keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals

FM – ‘Synchronized’ Album Review

FM – Synchronized

In what currently seems like a pre-cursor to an impeding real-life zombie apocalypse where a strain jumps from animals to humans and mutates to kill 98% of the worlds pollution, its a bloody good job I can rely on certain things to comfort me – such as a new release from my all time faves, FM!

Its been a good 12-13 years since they returned for a headline gig at 2007s Firefest, and after the second-life release of ‘Metropolis’ in 2010 its been steady ahead and a consistent team for those onboard HMS FM. In fact, the output has been more prolific than it was and they are probably more in control of their destiny that at an other point since 1984, and has seen them grace stages they probably never thought was possible (Donington, Sweden Rock, and a long awaited debut in the US), and tours with luminaries such as Foreigner, Heart and Lizzy. Its a good time to be a fan!

For FM Part II, ‘Synchronized’ is this lines ups seventh studio release, their twelfth in total. It’s some going. If you’re a fan already then there’s a lot to like. ‘Synchronized’ is rightly the first song to be picked as a single, as its in the same vein as a ‘Blood and Gasoline’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Tough it Out’ and fires along at a strong pace, led by Kirkpartick’s guitar and Davis’ keyboard. All of which is enveloped in Overlands vocals and the ‘gang of fives’ harmonies. It’s a cert for addition for the live shows. ‘Superstar’ is almost a departure for FM, its a mellow, pop-fuelled number that is certain of coverage on Radio 2 I suspect. I found it a bit too bland at first, but after a few spins it’s a definite grower, and more ‘one for the ladies’? I can already visage the video – filmed in Arizona (Blackpool) with a sweeping shot, (drone, not helicopter), followed by a top down Jag racing across Route 66 (A6). ‘Best Of Times’ follows on from ‘Superstar,’ and has a bit more vim and vigour, and without Overland singing his arse off, it would be average in any other hands. ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ is the first ballad, and its still very un-FM like. It’s not a bad thing, Im just taken a bit aback by the first few numbers being a shift from the norm. ‘Broken’ is upbeat and akin to what hit the Billboard charts mid-80s, and is ear candy of the highest order.

‘Change For The Better’ is a classy number and definitely channels Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. ‘End Of Days’ goes for a ‘BIG’ sound from the off, with a nice ‘choppy’ guitar sound running through the whole song. ‘Pray’ sees Overland channeling his inner Sam Cooke and has all the hallmarks of a soulful/Blues STAX record from the 60s with a modern twist. It’s only missing a horns section and Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper, and it is a firm favourite for me. I.Loved. It. ‘Walk Through The Fire’ is bound to bring comparisons to Mr. Misters ‘Broken Wings’ thanks to Jem Davis’ ivory tinkling. It’s as 80s as a pair of Coverdale’s leg warmers and its all about the bridge and chorus, thus proving that the second half of ‘Synchronized’ is definitely on a roll.

‘Hell Or High Water’ is one of the heavier songs (in FMs world), it is built around the infectious chorus. ‘Angels Cried’ has a slide opening riff before settling into a bluesy, almost gospel ballad, with a side of Bon Jovi thrown in. Only, when BJ was good! Finally we are on to ‘Ready For Me’ is like FM of old, when every album or single had a B side like a Bad Company cover or BC inspired dong, and RFM is no exception and it finished the album on a positive.

Basically I take away my comment at the top of this review. Yes its a comfort for a new FM album, but it’s very different to anything they have put out before. That has thrown me a bit, which is both good, and also slightly puzzling to me. That in itself I think is a good thing, and that deserves a round of applause. It’s definitely a stronger period for me in the second half, as a few of the first half made me question if there was a pattern or new sound they were going after. It’s almost akin to when I heard SO for the first time. However, I’m positive that after many more listens, it will be a big hit with me. One thing is certain, Steve Overland never sounded so good.

No doubt Dave Ling will wank himself into a frenzy.

8/10

Tracklisting
Synchronised
Superstar
Best Of Times
Ghosts Of You And I
Broken
Change For The Better
End Of Days
Pray
Walk Through The Fire
Hell Or High Water
Angels Cried
Ready For Me